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The Encyclopedia
of Maple

The History of Maple Syrup

According to Brother Marie-Victorin Kirouac, the celebrated botanist who founded the Botanical Garden of Montreal, an old First Nations legend traced the discovery of maple sap to seeing a squirrel full of energy after drinking it from a tree. That’s quite a story!

Since First Nations peoples passed on their knowledge orally, there is no written confirmation of when or how maple sap was really discovered. One thing is certain: it happened centuries ago…

discovered Canada but did you know he was also the first European to write about the sugar maple and maple sap? It happened as early as 1557 and quite by chance during one of his voyages to Canada. Cartier cut a tree from which, to his astonishment, flowed a sweet-tasting sap. The First Nations inhabitants told him they called the magical tree “couton”. Today, we know it as the sugar maple.

The Invention of Maple Syrup

For a long time, the new inhabitants of Canada consumed maple sap in sugar form, making it into candies and other things. Until 1850, production techniques didn’t change much: for instance, they made cuts in the trees with an ax! Little by little, methods advanced with the invention of the sap spout and building of sugar shacks. Books tell us that meals were first served in Quebec sugar shacks in 1861.

Maple syrup didn’t make its first appearance until the 20th Century, but preserving it remained a problem. Finally, in the 1920s and 1930s, it was found to keep well in cans and jars, that is, by canning it. For , it was a turning point in history!

Chapter 4

Health and Sports